Freelancers are used to dealing with uncertainty when it comes to employment. Clearly, that uncertainty has been kicked up a notch by the pandemic and economic slowdown happening right now. Thinking about where you’ll be in one year, much less five years, can seem daunting. Instead of plotting out a rigid plan subject to thwarting by an unstable economy, use this time to build resilience. Here are a few tips to develop a freelance practice and lifestyle that puts you in a good position to make the most of any opportunities that come your way in the future.
Learn New Skills
Aside from improving your job prospects, learning new skills is good for your mental health. Plus, going “back to school” as an adult living in the internet age means you’re not limited to the textbooks your teachers give you—online resources are endless. Our advice? Pick a resource and start with bite-sized exercises, like reading one chapter of Elements of Style, doing a coding exercise on Codecademy, or learning a new foreign language phrase on Duolingo. Here’s a tip from Atomic Habits by James Clear. When you’re starting a new habit, pick a specific action, time, and location. For example: I will do mandarin exercises on Duolingo at 8pm in my home office.
Create Alternative Revenue Streams
In an ideal freelancing scenario, you have one or two steady clients that cover the bills, leaving you free to pick and choose the supplemental projects that strike your fancy. Assuming you haven’t died and gone to freelancing paradise, dip your toes into other income pools to keep yourself going when freelance gigs have dried up. Don’t limit yourself to your main field of work, either! Try reading audiobooks, become a market research subject, or write marketing content for businesses. (Pro tip: follow #sidegig on TikTok for more inspiration, but watch out for Multi-Level Marketing schemes!) If you’re tired of trading time for money, develop your own products. Stickers, tattoos, pins, patches, posters, and t-shirts are relatively easy to design and sell on Etsy. If physical goods aren’t your thing, try selling digital products like icons and logo templates on Creative Market, or ebooks with Kindle Direct Publishing.
Save Like There’s No Tomorrow
Maybe you’re struggling to pay the bills and saving anything right now feels impossible. Maybe you’ve always told yourself you’re just not good at saving money. The truth is: it’s not you, it’s your system that’s failed. Part of the reason 401k savings accounts are so successful and ubiquitous is that they’re often funded automatically via paychecks. That’s the most important trick to saving—making it automatic. Decide on an amount so small you can’t make an excuse to cancel it and set up an automatic deposit each month. First, build up an emergency fund in a regular savings account, then put the rest into a retirement savings account. “Roboinvestors” like Wealthfront or Betterment make the whole process as painless as possible. Best of all, taking this one simple step lets you self-identify as a financially responsible saver, which doubles as a sexy line to add to your dating profile.
Times are hard right now, but the world has been through worse and still bounced back. Next time you’re tempted to flick through your newsfeed and ingest another unactionable doomsday article, try looking back in time. Studying history gives you some perspective on the hardships that the economy has faced and overcome. For a lighter foray into recent history, try How I Built This, a podcast that tells the stories of “the world’s best-known companies.” Their subseries, How I Built Resilience, focuses on how those same founders overcame hardships to create their businesses. Fun fact: During the Great Recession of 2008, Airbnb raised money by selling politically-themed cereal boxes.
Looking for more on how to grow your freelance business? Check out our recent blog: How to Freelance During a Recession.
We’ve all been stuck in a time warp during the last six months, but this pandemic will end eventually (really!). Work on yourself now and you’ll be ready to embrace whatever the future holds. In the meantime, Artisan is here to connect financially responsible savers with great-paying gigs. When you’ve finished your line of enamel pins, reach out and let us know what you’re looking for.